Let the battle for second and third Best Animated Feature of the year begin. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has just announced their short list of 15 features that are eligible to be nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 83rd Annual Academy Awards and right out of the gate, competition is fierce. Due to Academy rules, if up to 15 films qualify for the nomination, there will be only three nominees. If there are 16 or more films eligible, five films get nominated. So this year only three films, out of a very strong group, will get to call themselves Oscar nominees. But, really, we know there’s already a clear cut favorite.

Of the nine years this award has existed, Pixar films have won five Oscars (Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Wall-E and Up) against only two losses (Monsters Inc., Cars). And with the unprecedented critical and financial success of Toy Story 3, chances are everyone else is just vying for a nomination. Check out the full list, which includes several films that have yet to be released, as well as our detailed analysis/predictions, after the jump.

Here’s the full list.

  • Alpha and Omega
  • Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
  • Despicable Me
  • The Dreams of Jinsha
  • How to Train Your Dragon
  • Idiots and Angels
  • The Illusionist
  • Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole
  • Megamind
  • My Dog Tulip
  • Shrek Forever After
  • Summer Wars
  • Tangled
  • Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue
  • Toy Story 3

Before I get into my dissection of these nominees, one of the films on the list which has not yet been released for a qualifying run, but you need to know about is Summer Wars.

Summer Wars played at Fantastic Fest 2010, where many of us were lucky enough to see it. Basically, it’s a Japanimation about a global social network (think Facebook, but bigger) that runs everyone’s lives, until it gets infected with a deadly virus. It’s then up to a large, very well connected family, to plug into the network and battle to save the world. Think of a colorful, avatar filled mash-up of The Matrix and The Social Network if it was directed and conceived by Hayao Miyazaki. It’s not directed by Miyazaki, nor do I feel it lives up to his films or either of those movies, but the comparison gives a small hint of what kind of movie this is. Here’s the trailer to help.

Cool, right? That said, it doesn’t have a chance in hell at a nomination. Let’s talk about what does.

I think we can all agree that Toy Story 3 is a lock for at least a nomination, if not the victory. That leaves two spots to fill out of 14 movies.

If you look at the history of this award it seems like they regularly try and nominate a highly praised foreign film, and there are several here. The leader is probably The Illusionist directed by Sylvain Chomet, who has already been nominated for The Triplets of Belleville. The Dreams of Jinsha, a 3D Chinese film, has yet to have its qualifying run, but feels like it could be a dark horse much like The Secret of Kells last year. The only difference is that last year, there were five nominees.

Besides that one foreign wild card, the other nominations are usually given to box office successes. And if those successes have  great reviews too, all the better. This is where things get scary. Despicable Me was a huge hit as was How to Train Your Dragon, but Dragon got better reviews. Megamind is doing very well, but isn’t really generating any real buzz around it (same thing with Shrek Forever After) and then there’s Disney’s Tangled, which has a lot of buzz but won’t open for another few weeks. Disney has gotten multiple nominations before, though, so just because Tangled is released by the same people as Toy Story 3, don’t completely rule it out.

If I had to guess, I’d say the foreign wild card is out this year. The Hollywood competition is simply too strong. I feel like Toy Story 3 is a lock, How to Train Your Dragon is a distant second, and the third slot will mostly likely be between Despicable Me and Tangled. I’m going to go with Tangled.

Do you agree with my analysis? Did I leave anything out? What three films do you think will be nominated and what will win?

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